The prospects are coming, or at least one of them is. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported on Thursday evening that the Orioles are calling up pitching prospect Kyle Bradish to make the start - and his major league debut - against the Red Sox at Camden Yards on Friday night.
Bradish, 25, has been plowing over Triple-A competition in his first handful of starts this season, with just a 0.733 WHIP over 15 innings. The righty has struck out 17 batters and walked only three. It’s an impressive ratio. Bradish spent most of last season with Norfolk as well, when issuing free passes was a much bigger problem for him: In 2021, Bradish walked 39 batters in 86.2 innings at the level. We can all hope the improvement is durable.
An interesting question to keep in mind as Bradish debuts is: How stretched out do the Orioles think he is? His first three starts have been four, five, and then six innings. That most recent start a week ago saw him throw 87 pitches. Bradish will be on a couple of days extra rest in making this MLB debut.
Will they let Bradish rip closer to 100 pitches? Will he be able to stretch out that many pitches over six-plus innings when facing MLB hitters for the first time? In the world of prospect scouting reports, it’s that pitch efficiency that’s the big concern holding back Bradish from his best outcomes. FanGraphs, which rated him as the #7 prospect in the Orioles system, called him a “five-and-dive type of starter who just out-stuffs opposing hitters on the right day.” More exciting sentences than this have been written about prospects.
In the original plan for the week, Bradish had been on turn to start on Wednesday for Norfolk. When he was pushed back from the Wednesday start to Friday, that was the first sign that the Orioles might have a weekend MLB debut in mind. Sure enough, he’ll be up for the opener.
A 2018 draftee by the Angels out of college, Bradish became Rule 5 draft-eligible over the past offseason. It was an easy choice for the Orioles to add him to the 40-man roster to keep him safe from that draft - though as we know, the draft never happened, due to the lockout. The Orioles acquired him from Los Angeles in the Dylan Bundy trade over two years ago. Bradish has been the headliner of the deal all along. In Camden Chat’s composite prospect ranking, he was tied for eighth in the system heading into this season.
A prospect getting to make a debut on a Friday night at home is always exciting. This is even more true for Orioles fans since Bradish is the first one coming out of a large group that we hope to see as the season rolls along - catcher Adley Rutschman, fellow pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and D.L. Hall, outfielder Kyle Stowers, even a so-far-rebounded Rylan Bannon. Others could appear if their health and performance allow.
The result, we hope, is going to be a better team than the one the Orioles are fielding right now. Thursday’s infield error-filled loss makes those replacements feel more urgent. If the Orioles are going to start debuting pitchers, they should really put the best defense they can behind them, and not, you know, Rougned Odor.
Since Bradish is already on the 40-man roster, the Orioles will only need to trim the active roster in order to make room for him. Mike Baumann, who scuffled in a multi-inning outing on Thursday, seems like one candidate to be optioned. Baumann will not be a fresh arm available as a backup after throwing 47 pitches today.